Retail Momentum Gathers For CBD Topicals While FDA Decides Its Direction

By William SumnerHemp Business Journal Contributor

Hemp-derived CBD is all the rage right now, even as confusion and illegality abound. Prompted by the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp and hemp derivatives like CBD, investors and entrepreneurs have been scrambling to capitalize on the increasingly popular substance. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has tried its regulatory best to pump the breaks on the phenomenon by asserting its authority and cracking down on illicit sales of CBD supplements.

Standing on the sidelines are large-scale national retailers, many of which understand the potential profits but prefer not to pique the ire of federal authorities. While some retailers are staying out of the CBD craze completely, others are splitting the difference by offering topical CBD products, which are less likely to draw the legal wrath of the FDA.

In March, CVS Health Corp (NYSE: CVS) and Walgreens (NASDAQ: WBA) became the first national retailers to announce that they were peddling CBD creams, patches, and sprays in their stores. CVS was selling them in eight states (Alabama, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, and Tennessee), while Walgreens marketed them in nine (Colorado, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, New Mexico, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Vermont).

Following …

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